Thursday, 25 February 2016

Eknathji: The Source of Inspiration

Hundred Percent efforts to succeed in any endeavor, small or big and yet complete surrender to the Divine; exceptional physical strength and yet tender at heart; total commitment to the goal and yet close rapport with people of all hues; serving the Ishwara all-around in the form of the needy and downtrodden and yet communing with  Nirguna and Nirakara in meditation; suffered from penury in the childhood and yet never suffered or experienced scarcity; lived with the motto ‘one life one mission and yet contributed to various fields of life; always dedicated and focused on the duty in hand and yet could see far ahead; born in an ordinary family yet did extraordinary work; strict disciplinarian and yet radiated laughter and affection wherever he went;  all these and many more paradoxical combinations were merged in one man called Sri Eknathji Ranade.

Eknathji, born in an ordinary family and with all constraints in childhood ultimately developed into a person who did an extra-ordinary work. What was the driving force? When quite young, he was intrigued as to why Lokmanya Tilak was shown with the four hands? He thought that if someone does great work should we deify him and in a way abdicate our responsibility of doing great and good work? Should we not learn a lesson from it that our life should be manifestation of Divinity, that each one of us has the inherent capacity in us which can be expressed in life in great work if we strive hard enough with all conviction in it. Swami Vivekananda’s message that ‘Each soul is potentially Divine. The goal of life is to manifest that Divinity within by controlling the nature external and internal’ was a great inspiration for him. For Eknathji, life was thus striving for manifestation of Divinity. In this journey of manifestation of Divinity broadly three phases of his life are seen.

1. The Master Organizer:


As a young boy Eknathji became a Swayamsevak of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and even before he entered college he decided that he would dedicate his life in the service of the nation as Pracharak of Sangh. After he completed his college education he became Pracharak. He was sent to Mahakoshal i.e. the part of present Madhya Pradesh as Pracharak. Eknathji always used to tell that opportunities are duties. He said that a Karyakarta or an organizer is not going to get a separate time to acquire various skills required for the organizing work, or a separate time to learn languages or other subjects. The worker should so organize his daily routine that he acquires all the necessary skills and languages and moulds himself or herself as best offering for Ishwara Karya –God’s work. Whenever an opportunity comes knocking at his door to do some difficult task or do more work he should not grudge or grumble or postpone what needs to be done but should seize the opportunity to do the required work and in the process acquire the skills of doing it. Thus opportunities are duties as it is the duty of a Karyakarta to develop himself to be able to do better work. This aspect is seen in abundance in Eknathji’s life.

When Eknathji reached Mahakoshal he learnt this lesson of how ‘opportunities are duties’ and performance of duties open up opportunities. He did not know Hindi at all then yet he was told that he should be addressing the small gatherings in Hindi wherever he was introduced. Eknathji himself tells about this incident. 

“Of course I was fresh from the college and not with much experience. And then one elderly person took me and told that, ‘I will introduce you to the people’. And he told me that, ‘When I introduce you to the gathering of people, I will introduce ‘he is so and so, so and so and has come here to work. After my introduction then I will tell that now the gentleman will speak and of course you will have to speak in Hindi because those people do not understand Marathi’. I said, ‘First of all I don’t know how to speak and that you are now telling me that I have to speak in Hindi. How is it possible? No, it is not possible. You take me this time, you only introduce. Then I will work, I will be there. I will study and then next time when you take me then I will speak’. He said, ‘No. I am telling you, I am not asking you. This you have to do. I will introduce you in three minutes, four minutes and after that I will say that you will speak and you will have to speak. You speak for 5 minutes; you speak for 10 minutes, you speak for two minutes and you stand and if you can’t speak and therefore you sit down, I would not mind. I will say this that you will speak. And let us leave it to what happens’. I said, ‘But, I don’t know Hindi at all’. He said, ‘Only thing I can do is I can give you a dictionary Marathi-Hindi or Hindi-Marathi, because Devanagiri Script is same for both languages so you have no difficulty in reading. A Marathi man can read Hindi too as script is same for both the languages’.

So I took the book Hindi Sabda Sagar, and day and night I was struggling with it. On the strength of that I began to speak. God knows what I must have spoken. But then by the time I finished my tour of nearly two months I gained confidence that I can speak and also I can speak in Hindi. This is how opportunities are building you; this is how opportunities make you equal to the task, if you don’t grumble and you come forward to use the opportunity.”

Eknathji not only learnt Hindi he learnt the technique of learning languages in minimum time. Thus he learnt later Bengali and Assamese. He soon developed himself as a master organizer. He had told that three things are required for the organizer. The faith and conviction in one’s ideal, capacity to transmit that ideal to others by one’s own example and gradually with capacity of implementing chatusutri of Lokasamparka, Loksangraha, Lokasamskar and Lokavyavastha to develop a team of Karyakartas. With these three requisites in abundance Eknathji soon expanded the work very fast. He was also then given the responsibility of Madhya Bharat. Even the persons who used to come in his contacts from other states or cities not from his area of work used to get so inspired and trained by Eknathji that on return to their place, they would start work in their regions. Thus Eknathji was also called by his colleagues in lighter vein as ‘expansionist’.

In 1948 after the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi the political forces with ulterior motives banned Sangh. Most of its Adhikaris and many Karyakartas were arrested. Somehow, Eknathji could go underground and escape arrest. The jail conditions and treatment to the Swayamsevaks were inhuman. Families of many karykartas suffered as the earning members were in jail. In order to make the society and government aware of the plight it was decided to organize Satyagraha. Eknathji was in charge of organizing Satyagraha by staying underground. One can imagine how difficult it must have been in those days when no means of communication were available. But though underground still he organized it so well that it turned out to be one of the biggest and most disciplined and well-planned Satyagraha organized in the world. As was intended many eminent persons in the society came to know of how the government was unjust in its approach and they came forward to talk with government and ultimately the ban on Sangh was lifted. In those days in lighter vein Eknathji was called as underground Sarsanghachalak by his colleagues.

After the ban was lifted the period of reconstruction began. Eknathji was posted in Bengal for two reasons. One, the situation was very alarming in Bengal as thousands and thousands of refugees were pouring in from East Pakistan due to the atrocities committed on Hindus. Second, due to the ban, the work of Sangh was in shambles. When Eknathji reached there he found again that due to language barrier he could not reach out to the people. He who was so active and alert in organizing the Satyagraha now had come to a place where he did not know language and the work was in bad shape. Eknathji wrote to one of his colleagues that ‘I am like a deaf and dumb person here’. Because of the refugee problem, society was hardly in a mood for any constructive work. 

But a master organizer does not cry over the difficulties but sees opportunities in difficulties and then those opportunities become his duties. Eknathji found that the cause of refugees itself has become important means to organize the people to make them aware of their responsibilities. Thus with Eknathji’s efforts Sangh formed Bastuhara Sahayata Samiti. As before Eknathji mastered Bengali in no time and he used to speak it so well that no one could make out that he was non-Bengali. He also found that many young boys who were coming as the refugees could become easy targets of anti-social elements thus he started work among them. Many young boys found a father-figure, a mentor in Eknathji. They became Swayamsevaks and worked constructively for nation. Sri Deepti Choudhari a businessman used to say, “I was a refugee. Eknathji picked me up as a boy. He moulded my personality and character like a father does to his son. I see Swami Vivekananda in Eknathji”.

During this time Eknathji increasingly felt that the Government of India has not taken into consideration the plight and the needs of the refugees or the extensity of the problem. So he tried to bring it to the notice of Sri Jawaharlal Nehru, the Prime Minister of India when he had come to Calcutta. But when the problem was told, Nehruji retorted angrily that ‘Sangh people are in habit of exaggerating the things.’ In justification he showed the newspaper Yugantar a slightly leftist paper which had not given any such details about the refugees.

There was no point in arguing with Nehruji, Eknathji realized. He thought that, “If Nehruji understands Yugantar language then I must tell him in that language”. He went straight to Sri Bibekananda Mukherji the editor of Yugantar. He told the editor to come with him to refugee camps. Eknathji used to maintain the rapport with people of all hues as he basically viewed everyone as a potential Karyakarta beyond his colour, creed or region. As we have to work in the society we must have good rapport with all people. Perhaps this rapport or the sincerity of purpose of Eknathji touched Mr. Mukharji and he went with Eknathji to the refugee camp. He was seeing the condition, the pain, the grief in the camp. At that time they saw one woman crying with her head covered with the sari. Eknathji kindly enquired from her the reason. She removed her pallu from the neck. On it was written in Bengali by burning the skin that ‘ise bhrashta kiya gaya hai‘- she is raped’.

Seeing that, Sri Mukherji was dumbfounded. Without saying a single word, he went back immediately to the office of Yugantar. The next day paper was already put on the machine. He asked to take it down, changed the setting of the first page, and inserted the news about the pathetic conditions in refugee camps, the atrocities that were committed on the people in East Pakistan etc. The next day edition thus carried the news and Nehruji who had the public meeting in the evening on that day had to take cognizance of the situation.

What needs to be done, Eknathji would see to it that it is done, such was his karyashakti. Later Eknathji became Sarkaryavah of Sangh. During those six years he developed the Organizational structure so well that almost in its essential form it still continues in Sangh.

2. The person who made the impossible, possible


Eknathji was Sarkaryavah in Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh after that he was given the responsibility of Akhil Bharatiya Bauddhik Pramukh. It was at this time when the Birth Centenary of Swami Vivekananda was approaching, it was decided that a book of some 150 pages should be brought with condensed message of Swami Vivekananda. As a Bauddhik Pramukh this responsibility came to Eknathji. When he studied the complete works of Swami Vivekananda on the background of his so many years of work for the nation it was a very revealing study for Eknathji. The thoughts of Swamiji that Dharma is the life center of India, that is the line of least resistance and therefore the Dharma is be established in its entire and vibrant meaning stirred him. Many thoughts of Swamiji were churning in him perhaps destiny was guiding him to the future events. 

It was at that time, that the people at Kanyakumari were trying to erect a memorial statue for Swami Vivekananda at the very mid-sea Rock where Swamiji had meditated for three days and three nights and had taken the momentous decision of going to the Parliament of Religions at Chicago. But many difficulties arose. A section of Christian community opposed to it. The Chief Minister of Tamilnadu Sri Bhaktavatsalam agreed that it was Vivekananda Rock as Swami Vivekananda had meditated there. Though the Chief Minister had consented that a plaque can be put up there in the memory of Swami Vivekananda; to placate the other group he had declared that he would not allow in his life-time the memorial on the Rock. To add to the difficulties, the Union Minister Sri Humayun Kabir declared that any construction on the rock would spoil the natural beauty of Kanyakumari. One after other the difficulties arose, the memorial became the communal flash point.

The memorial committee at Kanyakumari expanded itself to be an All India Vivekananda Rock Memorial Committee. At that time the committee felt they needed a person who would surmount all such difficulties. Thus they requested Sri Guruji the then Sarsanghachalak of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh for deputing Eknathji who was known to make the impossible, possible. And thus the responsibility of constructing the memorial came to Eknathji. When a senior Swayamsevak Sri Appaji Joshi came to know that the responsibility of the Memorial was given to Eknathji, he commented, “Eknathji? It means now Swamiji has to stand on that Rock!” So much convinced he was that for Eknathji it was possible.

But the work was beset with many apparently impossible roadblocks. Also it was a very different type of work. Swami Vivekananda had said, “Nothing shall be done in haste. Purity, patience, and perseverance are the three essentials to success and, above all, love. All time is yours, there is no indecent haste. Everything will come right if you are pure and sincere.”

The purity of motives, not giving up the efforts, persevering for achieving the goal and patience to wait for the result though not giving up efforts and overall feeling of oneness for all is surely to bring the right results. Eknathji was epitome of these three essential qualities and love for the society as its basis as mentioned by Swami Vivekananda. The government offered to give land on the shore to build the memorial but Eknathji had not known compromise with the basics. Then the stand of the Tamilnadu government became still rigid. In haste it could have become a communal flash point. In the name of Swami Vivekananda there could not be fights among the sections of the society whom Swamiji had loved so dearly! The efforts were necessary to strive for a win-win achievement. The task appeared almost impossible. But with infinite patience, perseverance and conviction in the greatness of the cause Eknathji started sorting out the problems one by one.

First Eknathji strategically held a press conference in Calcutta, the constituency of Sri Humayun Kabir and created such an atmosphere that Sri Humayun Kabir had to agree to it that he was not against the Memorial. Then he skillfully kept the dialogue on with the Chief Minister and did not allow him to close the file on Vivekananda Rock Memorial. Later on Eknathji moved to Delhi and after getting the consent of Lal Bahadur Shastriji to submit memorandum, he secured the signatures of 323 members of the parliament within three days! Practically all the MPs present in Delhi at that time transcending the borders of caste, creed, region and religion signed the memorandum appealing for the Memorial of Swami Vivekananda at the mid-sea Rock at Kanyakumari.

When Eknathji brought the memorandum with 323 signatures of MPs, Shastriji could not believe his eyes. When the other copy of the memorandum was presented in the Parliament by Sri Bapuji Ane, the journalists went and asked Nehruji that what he had got to say about it. Nehru expressed that ‘if all the MPs present have signed for the memorial means the nation desires it, but it is a state subject and therefore when I meet Sri Bhaktavatsalam I shall talk to him’. Immediately the journalists went and asked Sri Bhaktavatsalam. He said, ‘I am not against the memorial but I am worried about the protection of the statue. So I did not give the permission.’ When Eknathji went to meet him, he said, ‘If the Vivekananda Rock Memorial Committee wants it can erect a statue and enclose it in 15 feet by 15 feet room.’ When whole nation had desired a memorial how it could be confined to just 15 feet by 15 feet room? If Eknathji would have argued with Sri Bhaktavatslam, he would have withdrawn the permission. But Eknathji knew the maxim of Swami Vivekananda ‘Nothing shall be done in haste. Purity, patience, and perseverance are the three essentials to success and, above all, love. …Purity, patience, and perseverance can overcome all obstacles.’

Eknathji told Sri Bhaktavatsalam very humbly that, ‘As the memorial topic has become an All-India topic I would get some blue prints prepared and show it to six persons in the country and then whatever they say I shall report to you. Then whatever you tell I shall do accordingly.’ ‘Who are those six persons?’ asked Bhaktavatsalam bit stiffly. Eknathji told, ‘Dr Radhakrishnan President of India, Jawaharlal Nehru Prime Minister of India, Lalbahadur Shastri the Home Minister, M C Chagla the former Chief Justice, Swami Madhavananda President of Ramkrishna Math, Belur and Paramacharya of Kanchi Kamkoti.’ To whom the Chief Minister could say no? He was a great devotee of Kanchi Paramacharya so later when Eknathji showed him the blue-print prepared by S K Achari under the guidance of Paramacharya, Bhaktavatsalam told Eknathji to go ahead with it. ‘But it’s dimensions are little bigger.’ Eknathji told. The Chief Minister told, ‘No problem you go ahead with this blue print which is blessed by Paramacharya’. That little bigger dimension was 130 feet by 56 feet! Then again gradually Eknathji secured permission for Sripada Mandapam, Dhyana Mandapam etc. Eknathji very skillfully secured the permission of the Chief Minister ultimately for a very grand memorial.

But in those days from where would money come for such a grand memorial. The collection fund with one rupee coupon itself became an awakening campaign where people came to know more about the memorial and also the life and message of Swami Vivekananda. Thus from 30 lakhs of people Rs. 85 lakhs were collected. Almost all the state governments irrespective of whatever party were in power donated one lakh rupees each. The memorial was constructed in record time of 6 years. In the process of construction the whole nation was galvanized and its confidence was restored. It became a truly a national memorial.

Bringing whole nation together to build this grand Memorial was a unique service that Eknathji did for the nation. It strengthened the national will. It proved that we could come together and work for a national cause. Paramacharya of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswati recognized the real import of this work by Eknathji. It seems that he said whether government recognizes these services or not he would like to do it. He specially sent his successor Shankaracharya Sri Jayendra Saraswati to Kanyakumari to honour Sri Eknathji. In the monthly magazine of Kamakoti Peetham “Kamakoti Pradeepam” dated 14.06.1972 this incident is given. In the evening of 21 April 1972, the devotees of Kanyakumari organized a meeting to seek blessings of Shankaracharya Sri Jayendra Saraswati. In this meeting, Sri Shankaracharya conferred the title of “Bharat Seva Ratna” on Eknathji and honoured him. Sri S. K. Achari was honoured with the title “Shilpa Kala Ratna”.

This feat of Eknathji was admired by many in the country. Swami Chinmayananda the Founder of Chinmaya Mission used to call Eknathji Hanuman. Once in a meeting at Shillong when Eknathji was by his side, he asked the audience in his inimitable sensational style, ‘Do you want the highest peak of Himalayas here in Meghalaya then ask this man. He can do it. Do you know who is he? He is Hanuman. For him nothing is impossible!’ 

Swami Ranganathananda who later became the President of Ramakrishna Mission, Belur said about him on 20 August 1972 while releasing the Vivekananda Kendra Patrika issue “Hill India” that “A man like Eknath Ranade is an asset to any movement in any country. I have known him very intimately, and I have admired his energy, his quiet dedication, his capacity for calm, silent, team-work and a rare capacity to influence favourably persons and every intractable circumstance! No difficulties can thwart him. Mountain-high obstacles he will face with a calmness and gentleness suffused with determination. In the meaningful words of Sri Ramakrishna: the Kacca ami, unripe ‘I’ or ego, has been replaced by the Paka ami, ripe ‘I’ or ego. With him and his other dedicated colleagues behind the movement, it can look forward to a rich harvest of useful work for the good of man”.

3. The Visionary


The granite memorial for Swami Vivekananda was completed on the mid-sea rock. But when the work of the Rock Memorial was taking shape Eknathji through his interactions with the people in the country increasingly felt that the memorial for Swami Vivekananda cannot be limited to only a granite memorial. The real memorial for Swami Vivekananda has to be in the lives of young men and women who would work for the regeneration of nation as envisaged by him. Thus he started Vivekananda Kendra a spiritually oriented service mission. Eknathji was a visionary. He could see far ahead in time and thus became a path-finder in many ways. Some of those areas can be seen as below.

i)    Recognition of the Appeal of Service and establishing it with its full significance


Since Colonial rule and Christian missionaries combine started working in India the meaning of Seva -service got distorted to running of orphanages, destitute homes, and leprosy homes, or got limited to running of hospitals, schools etc. This has been their method - Destroy the traditional communities, their traditional methods of caring and sharing, of education and Medicare and then open orphanages etc. to take credit, as well as to convert. The foreign sponsored Christian missionaries so to say distorted the meaning of service and then appropriated credit for service. They became the ‘licensed’ persons who rendered ‘service’ to the needy.

The Indian method was to make persons aware of their duties, sensitive towards the needs of others and thus evolve a self-propelled internally organized system in which the needy are taken care of. In such an evolved society there is no need of orphanages or destitute or old age homes as there would be no orphans, or destitute or uncared for old people.  Thus the real service that we should be doing in our country is to re-establish the dynamic meaning of Dharma as a duty with feeling of oneness towards those around us. Dharma is not to be confused with religion or any specific Upasana practice. Sri Guruji defines Dharma very beautifully. He says, ‘Dharma is the universal code of right conduct that awakens the Common Inner Bond (oneness), restrains selfishness, and keeps the people together in that harmonious state even without external authority. If Dharma prevails in the society then there will be no selfishness, no hoarding and all men will live and work for the whole (the society, nation and whole creation).’

Thus working for the establishment of Dharma i.e. the above mentioned universal norms would take care of the need of all. This is what our nation had been working for and had achieved it to a large extent but the invasions interfered. But now again we have to work to establish the strife-less, harmonious, caring society based on oneness. In short we have to re-build our nation. Working for such a society or nation building is the supreme-most act of service. But alas! This work was not considered as service. Eknathji a very keen observer of society noticed that service word is very appealing but it had lost its comprehensive Indian meaning. Not only that unfortunately many intellectually blind people associated service with only Christian missionaries. That perception needed to be corrected. 

Eknathji termed Vivekananda Kendra as a Spiritually Oriented Service Mission. He wanted Vivekananda Kendra to render a spiritually oriented service in the society. Eknathji used to explain the concept of service during the training of Karyakartas. These lectures are available in a book titled as “Sadhana of Service” and are widely read by the Karyakartas of many organizations and general people. Service has two aspects

1. Magnitude, scale and sustainability of act of service.
2. The attitude with which it is rendered by a person.

Supreme-most act of service is working for establishing the caring and harmonious  Society: While explaining acts of service Eknathji says, “Giving food to the hungry, providing medical aid to the sick and imparting secular knowledge or information to the ignorant are generally taken to be the acts of service to be rendered to others by a person who is service-minded. Offering any other help to the needy can also be included in this. But providing the basic or the primary needs to the others is only a preliminary type of service. There is a higher level of service when somebody imparts knowledge to the needy and also training to the person to make him independent and self-reliant, and thus making him stand on his own legs. But there exists a still higher level of service when a higher and deeper knowledge is imparted which can be described as enlightenment or inward illumination. In the two earlier cases, we enable a person to gain pleasure but here we equip a person to attain real happiness. We draw his attention to the deeper human problems and strengthen his means of understanding to realize what happiness is and how it can be enjoyed individually and collectively…”

But this is only one to one service but suppose we have such an evolved society in which there is an in-built system that the needy is taken care of; each one gets meaningful education and training to earn a respectable livelihood and the atmosphere within the society is such that the thirst for illumination is awakened in people and there are such evolved souls who can quench that thirst; then all the above three types of acts of service are taken care of in such an ideal social order. Creation of such a society would be the best service. The mission of India is to create such a Dharmik society where all are taken care of physically, mentally and spiritually as part of Dharma.

Eknathji explained, “As Swamiji has nicely put it, ‘every nation has a destiny to fulfill; it has a message to deliver and a mission to accomplish.’ ...This mission is not created or produced, it is handed over to the nation from generation to generation. The ancient seers had given up their entire worldly life and devoted themselves to this thought of the mission. It was through their austerity and penance, discrimination and thorough search that the mission dawned upon them and they have given it to us. People who aspire and desire to serve this nation must learn this mission, goal, destiny, and message and must realize the field of their work. They should be conscious of the arena in which they have to work.”

What is that mission? - To establish an ideal society. Eknathji further explains, “The ideal society must fulfill the needs of the body-mind complex; at the same time it must satisfy the yearnings of the inner being of man. Our ancestors had evolved such a society and with great confidence they could proclaim and invite the people of the world to come and visit this society and to follow, its precepts for their well-being...People in the world are striving for such an ideal society. They want it. ...It is India’s traditional, ever-existing mission to show the way… This is why ours is a nation-building service mission. The nation has lost its mission, it is to be re-instated, the nation is to be built, and perhaps it is to be reconstructed. ...It is ordained duty for this land to deliver this message even today to the world. Strife-less society will be the supreme and most precious gift that India can give to the world. It will be an un-paralleled and inconceivable act of SERVICE”.

Thus, the supreme most act of service is Nation-building. Nation building is nothing but the formation of Dharma based society. Dharma is an interaction with others based on oneness. It is doing our duty towards our larger forms of existence like family, community, society, nation and the whole creation. Establishing of such Dharma based society for the world has been the mission of India. The service with spiritual orientation means awakening the faith of the individual in his/her potential divinity and also the divinity around so that he/she is motivated to work for the society with the feeling of Oneness. Thus, Man-Making is enriching the man in all dimensions and also making him aware of his duty to his nation.

Attitude of total surrender to God makes an act of service a spiritual Sadhana: As important as the act of service, is the attitude, with which service is rendered. Eknathji says, in “Spiritualizing Life” “Service everybody does, you see if I go to the market, I want soap, and then a merchant, grocery shopkeeper gives me soap. I give him money. I wanted soap within half an hour. I wanted to wash my clothes. So I get out of this compound and he provides me with soap. It is a service. No doubt, it is service. That merchant, that grocer, the shopkeeper, has done me the service. No doubt. And that service I will certainly value. If I want something for a price, I don’t mind giving the price, but I must get the thing at beck and call. I get it. It is a service. So in all your activities you will find you do service. But there is a difference in service and selfless service. Merchant when he gives you soap and gets 50 np for it, it is not a selfless service. It is a bargain. This is a trade. It is commerce. It is a commercial service. There is give-and-take, a barter, a mathematical precision in receiving the returns approximately for the service rendered.” 

So if something in return is the motive then it is not service. But then what should be the prime mover in service? Eknathji says, “That service is the best and the noblest which is performed with the attitude of total surrender to God. …It is the divine design that I should render service on His behalf. He desires the betterment of the world and I am being used as a tool or a means to carry out His design. I am just an instrument in His hands …the action must be performed without any attachment but sincerely and honestly to the best of our ability with an attitude of being a tool only. We have been called upon to execute whatever is essential and possible as willed by God. This is SERVICE. We are doing his work. Such work elevates us and leads to Self-realization, which is the supreme goal of human life”.

An act of service with some expectation makes it barter, a trade but an act of Service with surrender alone makes it Sadhana. Eknathji says, ‘The entire life becomes a Sadhana. Entire life becomes Sadhana morning to night. You don’t have to sit for Sadhana. Life becomes Sadhana. You may not be required to say, ‘Now I have done this work. Now I will do Sadhana. Now I have done this work for others. Now I shall do something for my own liberation’

For further spiritual evolution of man India has to give her message of Oneness to the world. Message of Oneness is given by living example of a society which is based on Oneness. To develop such a society is God’s desire. We are His instruments. When we do that work with total feeing of Instrumentality – Sadhan Bhava then that great act of service becomes spiritual Sadhana. One may be a teacher, a student, a house wife, a banker, a social worker, a politician or anything but if we are doing our duties with national consciousness ie to rebuild, to organize the society based on Oneness and also with total acceptance of one’s role then that is great service.

During those days Eknathji would tour all over the country explaining in press conferences, public meetings the need of ‘spiritually oriented service’ that Vivekananda Kendra would be doing. It caught attention of many youth. Whether they could join Vivekananda Kendra or not but they were charmed with the idea, it went deep into them. Even today there are many persons who say that they were inspired and wanted to join Kendra.

If natural calamities come of course one should rush to help for relief and rehabilitation. But we do not have to pray that such calamities should come so that we can render service or there should be orphans, destitute, uncared for elderly persons so that we can serve them. That is only mending the symptoms of the disease. The disease is when many persons in the society become selfish, individualistic, insensitive to others’ sufferings or others traditions, and extreme consumerist then in such a society the number of orphans, uncared for women, elderly persons would keep on increasing. So someone may ask, ‘then should we not help orphans, destitute and others?’ We have to respond to the immediate need but in order that such issues do not arise we have to work for Dharma based society.

The real and sustainable act of service is to create a society in which most of the persons are evolved spiritually; respond with feeling of oneness to the sufferings of others; have fellow feelings, and they are aware of the mission of India and work for fulfilling it. In such a society there would be no orphans; women would be respected to bring out the best in them; the elderly persons would be gratefully taken care of; moreover the people would long to know and will know the real meaning of life and would be rooted in their inner being. It is a great act of service and great Sadhana when we work with surrender. As Eknathji worked to establish the service in its truest sense again, it was decided that during his Birth Centenary celebrations there should be ‘Vimarsh’ lecture cum interaction on the topic of Service.
Service in its full meaning is being rendered through ages in our country that is why Swami Vivekananda had said that renunciation and service are our national ideals. But Eknathji in his times perhaps was the first person who understood the appeal of service and incorporated it in Vivekananda Kendra by terming it as spiritually oriented service mission. Since then gradually the society also realized it and many organizations started service activities as well as some used the name service in the name of the organization itself. Hindu society responded to the needs of society in the field of basic service so well that today Hindus have left the Christian missionaries far behind in rendering of services which fulfill primary needs.

To give as example: In Chennai in the Hindu Spiritual and Service Fair which is being conducted since last 8 years many Hindu organizations participate. The organizers display the work of all the organizations as well as present a consolidated work of all in the central hall of the exhibition. The figures of some of the service activities of last year are

Primary service - Hospitals run 17,766 with patients treated annually over - 12 crores; Medical camps 52,881; Educational institutions run 29,198. Single teacher schools  1,45,410; Scholarship distributed Rs 118.6 crores, Rural and Tribal development projects 55,600 with beneficiaries 81,94,180 and villages covered 1,19,451(this is apart from schools and hospitals); Orphanages, old age homes and homes for differently abled -  1,465. Annadanam - No of people fed 44,90,96,763

Service to inculcate values etc. (apart from schools activities) No of centers of Hindu organization – 2, 77, 147;  Workers (Karyakartas) involved – 1,10,32,730; No of training centers – 7038; No of environmental awareness programs 2,795; No of water conservation programs – 871; No of trees planted – 2,34,73,63,066. Goshalas – 63,837; No of programs to promote respect for parents - 12,216. No of programs to promote respect for teachers-13140. No of programs to promote respect for women - 8,243; To instill patriotism - 13,673; Activities to promote arts – 8441; Magazines, periodicals and News Letters - 3,01,952. Yoga Centers - 14,526. Books /literature sold - 6,52,25,013. No of literature distributed free - 1,80,75,994.

ii)    Eknathji saw the potentiality of North East and the threats it may have to face


In 1950, there was a very devastating earthquake in North East, due to which Brahmaputra and her tributaries changed their course swallowing many towns and villages. Eknathji had toured that area extensively as Pranta Pracharak of Poorvanchal. He had seen the simplicity of the people and the rich diversity of North East. North East could also become a very important link in the future work of India in Eastern countries. He realized that considering the strategic importance of North East the anti-national forces might try to exploit this situation and cause a lot of trouble in the days to come. Very extensive work was needed at various levels to thwart such designs so as the people continue peacefully on the path of development. Due to the inner line permit practice in Arunachal Pradesh and also the anti-conversion bill, no religious organization was allowed to work there. The Christian missionary organizations therefore opened schools on the borders of NEFA as Arunachal Pradesh was known in those days. They would take the students from Arunachal, convert them, and send them back. (But today Christian organizations are very freely, openly and extensively pursuing their agenda of conversion.) The rich culture in Arunachal and other hilly regions was thus threatened. The Hindu organizations like RSS wanted to contain it. But these were considered as religious organizations and were not allowed in those days.

Therefore, when Vivekananda Kendra was started as a spiritually oriented service mission, Eknathji felt it could have easy entry to Arunachal Pradesh to serve the people. After the training was over the life-workers were to be posted in different parts of the country. Eknathji planned to deploy the first batch of trained Jeevanvratis in Arunachal Pradesh and whole of North East extensively. Even Destiny seemed to have willed the same way. Or rather, the thinking of Eknathji was in tune with the Divine plan as he was an instrument in the hands of Divine. 

Sri K. A. A. Raja who was Chief Commissioner then and later became Lt. Governor of Arunachal Pradesh, visited Kanyakumari when the training of the first batch of Jeevanvratis was on. He was very much inspired by his visit to Rock Memorial. He felt a person who has actualized such perfection in granite with the support of the whole country must be having a still grander vision. While talking with Eknathji, he came to know about the second phase. He was delighted to know that Eknathji too cherished this idea since long to do substantial work in North East. Both together planned that Vivekananda Kendra should start a chain of schools for Arunachalis. For want of proper schools, many of the Arunachalis were sending their children to the missionary schools in Assam. But, in those schools the children would start despising their own culture and traditions, their own Gods and Goddesses. That worried the people. Therefore, Sri K. A. A. Raja, on behalf of people of Arunachal, extended an invitation to Vivekananda Kendra. Eknathji was overwhelmed at the way the events had turned out to fulfill his long cherished desire and the need of the people.

Though Sri K. A. A. Raja wanted the schools to be started immediately, Eknathji had different ideas. He felt the development of any community should not be defined and decided by others. It should come from within the community itself. Therefore, the Kendra should only help them to find out their own solutions. And to be able to do that, the Karyakartas of Kendra should live with the people, understand them and accept them as their own, only then they would become eligible to work for them. Therefore, Eknathji posted the Jeevanvrati-life workers and some selected teachers in different government schools in Arunachal Pradesh. Before posting them, Eknathji took extensive tour of Arunachal Pradesh for 15 days. In those days, communications were very bad. Nevertheless, he had to see and decide where he would be sending Kendra Karyakartas. It seems, after this strenuous tour, Eknathji had some severe cough for a few days. However, he wanted to have the first-hand knowledge of the terrain by seeing the physical conditions where he would be sending Karyakartas thereafter. 

The speed of Eknathji’s work was amazing. He started the branch centres in all the states of North East. After proper study of people and area, in one go, seven residential schools were opened in remote areas of Arunachal Pradesh in 1977. The Jeevanvratis and selected teachers who had worked in government schools for few years were then withdrawn to work in Vivekananda Kendra Vidyalayas. The schools started with a bang and Eknathji also started five more schools after two years. He wanted to cover the whole of Arunachal Pradesh. The schools were residential so that the children from interior areas too could get the benefit. In those days, the whole of Arunachal was without any proper roads, so these pioneers had to walk for miles together to get any provisions or medical facility or many times just to reach the schools after vacation. But, they put up with all the difficulties smilingly and did such work that today Vivekananda Kendra Vidyalaya is a respected name in Arunachal Pradesh.

There are many traditional communities generally called as Tribal communities in North East. They have very rich culture. Their languages, dresses, way of worship, names of Gods and Goddesses are apparently very different from each other but they have same outlook towards life as in any other part of India. Unfortunately, this apparent difference was interpreted as separateness. The study of these communities was done mainly from a mechanistic prism by the West oriented scholars. Such study surely provokes tensions between the communities resulting in separatist tendencies. Once separated from its roots, the community also loses its identity and peace.

Therefore, Eknathji wanted to set up a research institute to study the traditions of North-Eastern communities from integral point of view. That dream was later realized in the form of Vivekananda Kendra Institute of Culture, Guwahati. He also wanted to have branch centres in each of the North Eastern states. Eknathji made North Eastern area the thrust area of Vivekananda Kendra. Due the early demise of Eknathji, Kendra had to slow down its pacing and thus for various reasons some Karyakartas from other states except Arunachal Pradesh and Assam were withdrawn.

When North East was a forgotten or ignored area; when transfer to North East was generally viewed as punishment posting by Government officers it was at that time Eknathji realized the potential of North East and focused on it. Even in North East still inaccessible area then was Arunachal Pradesh, Eknathji focused on it. He saw to it that on big scale educational and other activities were taken up. Today we know that North-East is very much in lime-light and even government establishment has a separate ministry for this region. But we can only salute Eknathji for having seen the importance of North East so early. 

iii)    Faith in Indian women


Swami Vivekananda had said that a bird cannot fly with one wing. It needs both the wings to fly majestically. Similarly the genius of both men and women is required for rebuilding of nation. If the women have no scope to work for the nation in every field or to dedicate one’s life for the nation then the development of the society would be lop-sided. Women have certain specific qualities. If those qualities are not available for rebuilding of nation, the nation would be affected accordingly.

One revolutionary step of Eknathji was of starting Vivekananda Kendra where both men and women would work together. Till then there was hardly any organization in our country where women could work full time, dedicate her life for the country. Before even the word ‘women empowerment’ got fashionable to be used, he could foresee the need that women must have the freedom of choice to live the life so as to contribute for the society.

Eknathji who was working in the tradition of Rishis of our country had full faith in the women. He knew a woman who herself is Shakti incarnate does not need to be empowered by anyone else. Only, what is required is to open all the avenues for her. When he started Vivekananda Kendra there were many words of caution and rightly so as after thousands of years the society was venturing again this where the men and women would work together in all equality and harmony and yet would maintain the sanctity of the atmosphere of the organization. Even if there was possibility of certain mishaps it was worth experimenting as Eknathji saw that in the days to come women are going to come on the forefront of everything, then why not start with in the field of service for the society. That is what he did.

Swami Vivekananda had envisaged, “A hundred thousand men and women, fired with the zeal of holiness, fortified with eternal faith in the Lord, and nerved to lion’s courage by their sympathy for the poor and the fallen and the downtrodden, will go over the length and breadth of the land, preaching the gospel of salvation, the gospel of help, the gospel of social raising - up -- the gospel of equality.” Eknathji in starting Vivekananda Kendra initiated the process of actualization of that vision of Swami Vivekananda.

Swami Vivekananda had considered women as equally important in the task of national regeneration. He had said, “To the women of this country I would say exactly what I say to the men. Believe in India and in our Indian faith. Be strong and hopeful and unashamed, and remember that with something to take, Hindus have immeasurably more to give than any other people in the world.” Naturally Eknathji too as true follower of Swami Vivekananda could not think of starting Vivekananda Kendra without women having any role as its Jeevan-Vrati Karyakarta.

Eknathji was a task master. Some warned him that his toughness may scare away the women. But Eknathji worked both ways that he too changed himself at the same time he saw to it that women Jeevanvrati Karyakarta also would be capable of toughness. He allowed women as Jeevavrati not with a patronizing or indulging attitude. His approach was same towards women and men Jeevanvrati. Therefore today Vivekananda Kendra has women Karyakarta who are part of decision making and also in execution of the work. And all this is done very naturally and not as balancing the gender ratio or in patronizing attitude! Sri Shirish Joshi who is organization consultant with wide experience and had conducted and facilitated workshops for educational management in Kendra for 2-3 years; once commented, “I find that Vivekananda Kendra is an organization which practices gender equity without talking about it. Women in Vivekananda Kendra are working at various levels including as thought leaders. I find this to be a very rare phenomenon”. Over the years now many organizations have adopted the practice of having women as full-time Karyakartas.

iv)    Yoga the core of Vivekananda Kendra


When Yoga was not that popular in India as Sri Baba Ramdev or Sri Sri Ravishankar were yet to emerge on our national scene, Eknathji realized the importance of Yoga. He emphasized Yoga as the core of Vivekananda Kendra. He used to invite Srimat Sri Janardan Swami from Nagpur a great Yogi who used to teach science of Yoga and also Yogasanas and Pranayam to life-workers. Eknathji wanted that Kendra Karyakartas should reach out in the society with Yoga as the medium. Not only that he also worked to open a big center for Yoga at Kanyakumari where people would come from all over the world and not just learn Yogasanas and Pranayam but would understand what Yoga way of life is. When the work was taking shape, Eknathji passed away. Later the work related to Yoga-Center was shifted to Bangalore and after 27 years it was made to grow independently of Vivekananda Kendra so that the research in Yoga Therapy etc could be undertaken by it. Today that center has become a Yoga University. But one can discern the foresight and of Eknathji behind it. 

As emphasized by Eknathji Yoga continues to be the core of Vivekananda Kendra. What did Eknathji mean when he said that Yoga was the core of Vivekananda Kendra? Vivekananda Kendra is not just having ‘yoga’ related activities but is also running many service projects in rural and tribal areas, and also has around 830 branches in the country so in what way “Yoga is the core of Vivekananda Kendra?” 

Swami Vivekananda had told “Each nation has a message to deliver, a mission to accomplish, a destiny to fulfill.” The destiny of India is to give to the world, an ideal social order based on the vision of oneness. Such Social order based on the vision of interconnected, interrelated and interdependent universe, takes care of the physical, mental, intellectual and spiritual well-being of its constituents.
For re-building our nation where are the men who would give their all for the good of the many? Thus the main work is to create such men who, seeing the divinity expressed in the creation around, give up their life, time and energy for its worship through service. Thus nation building is linked with man-making. For the work of man-making - how do we reach the people and motivate or mould them? What is the natural tendency of our people, what is it that appeals them? Eknathji said,
“People of our country are, by tradition, religion-minded and this country is therefore described as a land of religion and spirituality. Swami Vivekananda used to say that the soul of our country is in religion (dharma). ..If going to temples, visiting places of pilgrimage, participating in Bhajans, Yajnas and Anusthanas …are the manifestations of a growing religiosity, our country is, perhaps, more religious today than it ever was at any time in the past.
“But, unfortunately, the natural impact of this apparent God-wardness of the general society is little in evidence today. Purposeful living, discipline, character, truthfulness, fellow-feeling, fearlessness, subordination of the self and a zest for works of public good, which are some of the traits that develop in a God-ward society and which, we have enough evidence to say, existed in good measure in our country in the past, are seen fast disappearing from our midst. …So, what is wrong with us …Any discerning mind will be able to see that a distorted conception of religion is the root cause of most of our ills for the last several centuries, which persist even today. It is rightly said that religion is the soul of our country. But, as that itself is blurred, we have the sorry spectacle of deterioration all round.
“Religious (Dharmik or Spiritual) awakening means experiencing the presence of God in one’s own self and in the world. That makes one conscious of the divine within and urges him to work for its unfoldment and enables him to grow spiritually. Simultaneously, it generates in him a sense of oneness with God’s creation and, consequently, an intense fellow-feeling for the members of his own species – the human race – and prompts him to work with zest for human welfare and progress…  If, and as long as, the religious awakening intensifies on these lines, it is dynamic and full of tremendous potentialities for the transformation of humanity into higher and higher planes of existence. But, if it remains limited to rituals, forms of worship and offerings to God, or prayers and praises addressed to Him, it becomes static and has hardly any role to play in human advancement.”

It was Swami Vivekananda who gave us the call to worship the God that we see all around us. Religion is not in doctrines or dogmas, nor in intellectual argumentation. It is realization in the heart of hearts; it is touching God; it is feeling, realizing that I am a spirit in relation with Universal Spirit and all its great manifestations. To those who lost themselves only in forms and rituals, turning their back on the people and the misery that had befallen them, Swamiji said, ‘What vain gods shall we go after and yet cannot worship the god that we see all around us, the Virat (Janata Janardan)? When we have worshipped this, we shall be able to worship all other gods.’
“The remedy for the ills of our country, therefore, lies in launching a mighty movement of right thought sweeping the entire country. It has to be a two-pronged move. On the one hand, it is to be aimed at (1) transforming our people’s inherent God-wardness into the right spiritual urge rising out of the teachings of the Upanishads, namely, (a) each soul is potentially divine and (b) faith in God, in turn means faith in one’s self, i.e. in one’s potentiality to rise to divine heights. On the other hand, it is (2) to convert the spiritual fervour thus released into works of national reconstruction”
Thus, Vivekananda Kendra aims at man-making that is making man realize his essential divinity as well as see that divine-self all around. This feeling of oneness, concern for all in the society would generate great spiritual energy which is to be channelised for national reconstruction so that India can fulfill her mission. To achieve this Man-Making and Nation-Building, the right science as well as technology is Yoga-Shastra. The natural tendency of our people is following Dharma and worship of God. In today’s context we shall have to understand the deeper meaning of these terms. We will have to share its dynamic understanding with the people. Eknathji felt that is through Yoga that we can grasp that dynamic understanding in present context and Yoga is also the best tool to reach out to the people.
This work of Kendra as was told by Swami Vivekananda and stressed by Eknathji is mainly in the English-educated class which generally also termed as intellectuals. For nation building and for fulfilling the mission of this nation, this class is very important as they interpret India to the world. It is they who mould the opinion of the nation and represent the nation at the global level. But the irony is, they are incapable to express the soul of the nation as ‘modernity’ has cut them off from their roots, the tradition of this land. But their minds still respond to certain traditional sciences if they could be explained in scientific terms. Yoga is foremost in those sciences which appeal to them.  The way Yoga is welcomed in the West has attracted our west-oriented section too. Therefore Yoga becomes one of the best means to contact the English-educated class. Yoga also becomes the entry point for them to appreciate spiritual culture of India. Therefore, Eknathji adopted Yoga as the core of Vivekananda Kendra. 

We also see that the contemporary life is based on the reductionist, atomized view of life and gives stress only on individualism. Thus man is getting atomized, divided from nature, community, family and even his own self is getting shattered. Therefore many problems like disintegration of families, disturbed social systems, because of that, afflictions like drug addiction, violence, ecological imbalance, meaninglessness in life, crass materialism, are on the increase. That has created many tensions, stresses resulting in such diseases which medicine cannot cure. Yoga is the solution for all these present problems of man-kind. Man now needs such a way of life which gives him the Vision of Oneness. He needs a way of life which unites him with the (samashti) collectivity like family, community, society, nation and the whole creation. Only then he can also realize the Parameshti - the highest dimension of his life. Thus, Yoga is the solution for all the difficulties of the modern man. Perhaps it was because of this that when the proposition of International Yoga Day was put forward by Prime Minister of India, spontaneously the 177 nations supported it and thus in record time United Nations announced 21 June as International Yoga Day.
Yoga means feeling one with Divine which has expressed as all Samashtis like family, community, nation, creation. Thus, yoga way of life is not just yogasanaas but it is working for all the Samashtis. Kendra conducts Yoga Satra and Yoga Vargas to motivate the people to see Divine in oneself and around and to contribute by Tana (with actions) Mana (with feelings) and Dhana (giving some money) for all the expanding layers of the Samasthi. Such Yoga way of life is the core of Vivekananda Kendra as indicated by Eknathji in the Kendra Prarthana as Karamyogaiknishtha. 
Swami Vivekananda also wanted our society should come together on the basis of common principles. Yoga is non-sectarian. It does not stress any particular expression of Divine but accepts Omkar - Pranav as the best expression of Divine. Omkar is acceptable to all as it represents all forms and names of God. As Kendra intends to reach the people of all the faiths, Eknathji adopted Yoga as its core.
With development in technology, the demands on man at all levels have increased. As the life has become very complex man needs a very different paradigm to face the challenges of life. Yoga is the best science of human development, of personality development at all levels. As Kendra has the motto of “Serve man serve God” Kendra has taken Yoga as the core of its activities to render such service to the man, that he expresses all-round excellence in his life and raises oneself to the divine heights.
Yogasana can be an individual practice but Yoga way of life links the individual to the collectivities. As such human life is linked to everything - samashti and Parameshti, manifest and un-manifest, human and nature. If the links are ignored, man comes to grief. Yoga is for deepening this link with the Virat-the manifest and the un-manifest. ‘Yoga way of life’ makes one see God everywhere and thus worship it in Virat. Yoga Keval Vyaktigat Sadhana nahi hai Samashti ki Sadhana bhi hai. Vivekananda Kendra is an organization to rebuild our nation so that India can confidently fulfill its mission to guide the world in spirituality. Yoga is the best means to do that.  
As Yoga is the core of Vivekananda Kendra, whatever may be the activity of Kendra, its ultimate aim is to awaken the innate divinity in man, to strive for excellence, to feel for others, to channelise that energy for national reconstruction.
Eknathji launched Vivekananda Kendra a spiritually oriented service mission based on the Upanishadic teachings, “Each soul is potentially divine”. Yoga is the most effective science and methodology to manifest the divinity in man and to channelise it for national reconstruction.  Therefore, he gave prominence to Yoga by proclaiming and establishing it as the core of Vivekananda Kendra. Swami Vivekananda had said that, national union in India is the gathering of its all scattered spiritual forces whose hearts beat to same spiritual tune. Yoga is non-sectarian and thus it is the best medium to bring all the scattered spiritual forces together.

Yoga is to fulfill ordained duty of India: Swami Vivekananda had said, “Each nation has a mission to fulfill, a message to deliver, a destiny to fulfill.” The mission of India is to guide the whole world in spirituality; to re-establish India as Jagadguru.

What does it mean? When we say that India has to guide the world? If it is the knowledge then that is now already easily available in this digital age. Most of our scriptures are now digitalized. But spirituality is not information. One needs to experience about how a human life, family, society which functions on Oneness lives. Thus India has a three-fold function

1)    She has the vision of Oneness – Akhandamandalakaram, Ekatma Jeevan Darshan- expanding (evolving) man is a family, expanding family a community, expanding community a society, nation and expanding nation is a whole universe thus we are all interconnected and therefore interdependent.
2)    Man is not a sinner but potentially divine and goal of life is to manifest divinity. (Dharmik Jagaran is not just poojas but manifestation of divinity in one’s life and actions)
3)    India practiced, and worked for the Dharma (dharma - The duty of man to maintain the harmony around in the enlarging samashti) based society so that each one is taken care of and is provided opportunities to grow and evolve spiritually. 

In order to be able to guide the world we have not only to emerge as a strong nation economically and militarily but we also have to rebuild our nation vibrantly in the above three dimensions- Vision of life, immortality of human soul and samashti based on dharma. Eknathji wanted the Yoga in Kendra not to be limited to yoga therapy but as our Rishis have realized and practiced it, it is to be established as a way of life, which would bring paradigm shift, which would change the present reductionist way of life and bring Integral – holistic- way of life. 

Eknathji expected that on day to day basis for a Karyakarta of Vivekananda Kendra, ‘Yoga is the core of Vivekananda Kendra’ means – our every activity should work towards one or all the above three points. That is our activity should link an individual to the family, family to the society, society to the nation and all to the inherent Oneness of the existence. Our activities should awaken the desire in the man to manifest his potential divinity. Our activities should motivate that person to work for the society. Therefore he termed Vivekananda Kendra as not just a service mission but a spiritually oriented service mission

If we limit or use Yoga only for removing some diseases, or for monetary benefit or personal happiness then we are doing disservice to our Rishis. It is being ungrateful to them. They had given their lives, did penance to discover this knowledge, enrich it and pass it on to us. We cannot limit it or use it only for physical benefits or misuse or barter it. But is should be practiced fully to make this nation fulfill its ordained duty towards the humanity to realize the Oneness of existence. Eknathji thus was a great visionary. It is really a very pleasant coincidence that the first International Yoga Day was celebrated during the birth centenary year of Eknathji.

Whether as a Master organizer or as a man who made the impossible, possible or as a visionary what strikes any one in his life is his capacity to take any endeavor to its logical conclusion. No work would be left half-done or done as ‘somehow managed’. He believed in offering worship to Ishwara by his perfect, beautiful and purposeful actions. “Swakarmana Tam Abhyarchya Siddhim Vindanti Manavah – Worshipping Ishwara by one’s actions one reaches fulfillment”. Eknathji’s life was such a life of fulfillment made with tremendous will power. Eknathji was a man of tremendous will-power whether in work or even in sickness. When doctors gave up hopes after his brain hammaerage where he had even lost his memory he again recovered fully with his will-power and resumed his work. Great courage, great will power and great dedication to the cause can be learnt by studying his life. He continues to be the source of inspiration for every ordinary person who aspires to do extra-ordinary work for the sake of Bharatmata and make his or her life one of the most beautiful offerings to the Divine.  

Nivedita Raghunath Bhide

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Swami Vivekananada’s Eknath (The Birth Centenary of Mananeeya Eknathji Ranade The Founder of Vivekananda Rock Memorial & Vivekananda Kendra)

Eknath Ranade as a young college student in Nagpur in 1930s turned to Swami Vivekananda to understand Sanatana Dharma in the context of the religions in the world. He wanted to ably reply to many objections that were raised in his college against Sanatana Dharma. He could so well put forward the subject that his Bible teacher was overwhelmed. Destiny had a still greater plan in this episode. Swami Vivekananda had said, ‘We want …fiery young men and women …intelligent and brave, who dare to go to the jaws of Death, and are ready to swim the ocean across. Do you follow me? We want hundreds like that, both men and women. Try your utmost for that end alone.’

The call of Swami Vivekananda ‘to dedicate one’s life for nation’ captured young Eknath’s heart strengthened his thought of dedicating his life for the country. He dedicated his life as a Pracharak of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. Working in various capacities in Sangh, Eknathji, as he was called, since then, could feel the pulse of the society. He became a master organizer.
 
The Grand Memorial
As the Birth Centenary of Swami Vivekananda was approaching, Sangh gave him the responsibility to bring out a book compiling the message of Swami Vivekananda. As Eknathji set himself for it, once again the call of Swami Vivekananda stirred him. As providence would have it, he was entrusted the responsibility of getting permission for the proposed memorial of Swami Vivekananda on the mid-sea Rock at Kanyakumari. This was the Rock where Swami Vivekananda had meditated in 1892 and had taken the momentous decision of going to America for representing the Sanatana Dharma in the Parliament of Religions. 
 
There were many obstacles for raising a Memorial to Swami Vivekananda on that Rock at Kanyakumari. Eknathji dedicated himself full-time for this work. With his great organizational skills and the support from various organizations and the people of the country, a grand memorial came up just within a span of 6 years at Kanyakumari.    
 
Vivekananda Kendra
Eknathji felt that apart from the Memorial for Swami Vivekananda in granite, there has to be a vibrant Memorial for Swami Vivekananda in the lives of young men and women who would dedicate their life for service of the nation. Thus after the completion of Vivekananda Rock Memorial, Eknathji started Vivekananda Kendra, a spiritually oriented service mission, in 1972. Through Vivekananda Kendra, Eknathji appealed to the young, graduate men and women to dedicate their life.
 
Swami Vivekananda had said, “A hundred thousand men and women, fired with the zeal of holiness, fortified with eternal faith in the Lord, and nerved to lion’s courage by their sympathy for the poor and the fallen and the downtrodden, will go over the length and breadth of the land, preaching the gospel of salvation, the gospel of help, the gospel of social raising - up -- the gospel of equality.” Eknathji ably took this call of Swami Vivekananda to the young men and women. Those who responded to the call were trained and sent over the length and breadth of our land as envisaged by Swami Vivekananda.
 
Thus, in far away corners of our country like Andamans, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Assam, Kashmir etc along with various main cities of our country, these young dedicated men and women went to serve the people, to organize the service-minded people in the society to start Kendra centers. Though Eknathji left his body in 1982, the message of Swami Vivekananda that he had put in action in the form of Vivekananda Kendra today has work in total 810 places in 22 states and 4 Union territories.
 
One Life One Mission
 
Swami Vivekananda had told that each nation has a message to deliver, a mission to accomplish, a destiny to fulfill. India has to guide the world in spirituality; in making man realize his divine nature. When we are born in India our mission in life is always linked to the mission of our motherland. The ultimate destiny of man is to realize one’s divine nature and to reach that ultimate destiny man must plan his each life as milestone in that direction. Mananeeya Eknathji used to say what better plan can we have than work in an organized way to make India deliver her message in the interest of goodness of humanity. Each life should be thus focused on the chosen goal. He used to say ‘One Life One Mission’. It is this powerful message of Eknathji which is selected as the motto for the celebration of his Birth Centenary.

The Birth Centenary of Eknathji Ranade: Mananeeya Eknathji Janma Shati Parva
Swami Vivekananda’s Eknath thus even today motivates many young men and women to dedicate their life in the cause of nation. This year happens to be the Birth Centenary year of Mananeeya Eknathji Ranade. As the destiny would have it, the Birth Centenary of Mananeeya Eknathji Ranade would be celebrated after the mega celebration of 150th Birth Anniversary of Swami Vivekananda across the country.

During the Birth Centenary celebrations of Eknathji Ranade to be celebrated as Mananeeya Eknathji Janma Shati Parva from 19 November 2014 to 19 November 2015 following programs would be taken up
 
1. Safal Yuva – Yuva Bharat: This massive program to take the call of service of Swami Vivekananda to the youth would be in four phases. i) Yuva Samparka: Thousands of youth would be contacted to motivate them to strive for success by acquainting them about the dynamics of success through the story of Vivekananda Rock Memorial. ii) Yuva Sammelan:  500 Youth Conventions would be organized throughout the country iii) Yuva Prashikshan: Youth would be trained to take up a service activity iv) Yuva Seva: For six months these youth would render the service to the needy
 
2. To Start Vivekananda Kendra Academy for Integrated Culture, Yoga and Management – VK AICYAM - at Bhubaneshwar for the Janajatis of the Eastern Region as was envisaged by Eknathji
 
3. To have a Janajati leaders convention at Kanyakumari
 
4. To strengthen Vivekananda Kendra- the organization started by Eknathji by having enrichment of Karyakartas by training them at various levels so that more branches can be opened in the remote regions of our country.
 
5. To bring out literature on Vivekananda’s Eknath
To put these into action six aayams like Sahitya, Prashikshan, Karyakram, Vyavastha, Navnirman and Srujan are organized.
 
Your contribution matters
 
We appeal  all to join in this effort by contributing your time, energy and money so that we realize the vision of Swami Vivekananda, “One vision I see clear as life before me: that the ancient Mother has awakened once more, sitting on Her throne rejuvenated, more glorious than ever. Proclaim Her to all the world with the voice of peace and benediction.”

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Facets of SWAMI VIVEKANANDA-II

Of all the spiritual seers in the history of humanity Swami Vivekananda is unique. His was a mission set in a condition almost utterly negative all around. India was colonized by the British. Colonialism was seen as not just a political conquest but also as  a socio-economic conquest and more importantly as a spiritual conquest of India by the West. The Western Imperialism justified and positioned itself as a civilizing mission of the dark-skinned pagan ‘Hindoos’. On the other side India was suffering from the internal problems caused by social stagnation. Many social evils had crept into the age old society and culture. The downtrodden people were ruthlessly exploited and women were suppressed. Superstitions flourished in that fertile ground of social injustice. Sectarian fanaticism also divided the Hindu society. Most of the educated Hindus accepted the Western propaganda that there is nothing of worth in Indian culture and spirituality. They surrendered their mind and soul to the British worldview – in social, economic and spiritual spheres. Conversion was rampant and Hindus often remained unconcerned about the decline of their society and degradation of their religion and culture. It was in such a situation that Swami Vivekananda arrived with his mission of awakening Indians to the real eternal India.

When that unknown wondering monk from the colonized nation and demonized culture stood up and addressed the people of the then most prosperous of the Western nations, United States, as ‘Sisters and Brothers’ he virtually declared the proclamation of universal brotherhood. From that blessed moment of September 11, 1893 to his Mahasamadhi on 4th July 1902 –not even a decade- Swami Vivekananda transformed the history of humanity, as none did ever before. He not only made India arise from the forceful sleep imposed on her by the imperial powers but he also made the world listen to the authentic spiritual voice of India. 

Swami Vivekananda dialogued with the best minds of the global humanity as an equal.  He seeded the cream of global humanity with new concepts and visions. He showed an Indic way of viewing humanity, nature, divinity and the cosmos. His insightful vision into subjects as varied as cosmology and sociology reveals an astonishing genius rooted in Indian spirituality. In his interaction with the famous physicist Tesla, Swamiji forged Sankhya and Vedanta into epistemological tools for the exploration of future physics. The impact of his interaction with biologists at Paris Science Fair is yet to be studied in its full dimension. But we do know that influential system thinkers like Peter Kropotkin, Patrick Geddes and Vladmir Vernadsky, whose works are today considered as the basis of holistic scientific framework, were influenced by the words and writings of Swami Vivekananda.  Surely it was the phenomenon of Swami Vivekananda that also made Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose declare the truth of Advaita in that undefined border realm that organically connects the physical with the physiological.  It should be remembered that the creative synthesis of science and spirituality that Swami Vivekananda so naturally initiated, is something about which even today the West has not come to terms with. 

…Take one of the most material sciences, as chemistry or physics, astronomy or biology — study it, push the study forward and forward, and the gross forms will begin to melt and become finer and finer, until they come to a point where you are bound to make a tremendous leap from these material things into the immaterial. The gross melts into the fine, physics into metaphysics, in every department of knowledge.
The fact these words were uttered by Swami Vivekananda decades before double-slit experiment and Schrodinger’s cat, shows how rooted in Indic spiritual philosophy Swami Vivekananda was able to foresee the way the physical sciences would evolve.        

In India Swami Vivekananda inspired millions of Indians to realize the depth of their roots and the heights of their civilizational growth. He showed India that the genius of her spirituality fulfills an urgent need of the ailing humanity. It is not for herself but for entire humanity that India has to arise as a vibrant nation. For this he pointed out that the resources have to come from within. India’s ascent in the world history has to be achieved not through brute force and vanquishing of others as in the case of European nations. It has to be achieved through the processes of peace and benediction which come not from a debasing self-negation but from a majestic inner strength that bases itself on the Self.  

The Ganga of Vedanta was then imprisoned in the lofty towers of the worldly aristocracy wearing the garb of spirituality. It was more an interesting pastime of wordplay for the high born. But Swami Vivekananda was the Baghiratha who made that life-giving Ganga descent into the valley of common people. The Vedic wisdom was hidden by the Asuric forces of social stagnation under the chaotic waters of dead ritualism and inhuman casteism and as a divine Avatar Swami Vivekananda brought that wisdom before the light of all humanity. Vedanta is the need of the hour Swamiji said not just for the consumerist expansionist diseases of the west but also for the downtrodden masses of India as the spiritual basis of emancipation. He thundered:
This is the dictate of Indian philosophy. This oneness is the rationale of all ethics and all spirituality. Europe wants it today just as much as our downtrodden masses do, and this great principle is even now unconsciously forming the basis of all the latest political and social aspirations that are coming up in England, in Germany, in France, and in America. And mark it, my friends, that in and through all the literature voicing man’s struggle towards freedom, towards universal freedom, again and again you find the Indian Vedantic ideals coming out prominently.                

This then is the message of Swami Vivekananda – freedom from all fetters for all humanity and creative synthesis of all knowledge towards the Universal Oneness. By starting from the neglected quarters of Indian villages to the people suffering at the base of the pyramidal structures of the West the liberating nectar of Vedanta has to be taken so that the planet can live as one family. 
Aravindan Neelakandan

Thursday, 5 September 2013

VEDIC WISDOM FOR THE MODERN SOCIETY

Vedic Vision For the Modern Age

Immense changes shaking the very foundations of human life are taking place around us as seen in the collapse of the bipolar world, disappearance of cold war, fragmentation of mega nations, and in the emergence of godless materialism, merciless commercialism and senseless consumerism. The possibility of a Kurukshetra war between the spiritual and material civilisations cannot be ruled out. At the same time are audible echoes of Sri Krishna’s Panchajanya in the newly emerging paradigm of Reality with its watchwords of ‘common inheritance’, ‘unity of existence’ and ‘shared destiny’ little knowing that these were part of the Vedic Vision propounded by the Indian Seers aeons ago. These have to be intensified, amplified and made part of the thinking of the entire humanity. This is indeed a challenge which the diverse spiritual traditions of the world are called upon to answer.

A recycling of values is going on everywhere. To fathom the real value of values they must be studied in depth, not only in the outer world but also in the realm of consciousness and then tested in life. To achieve this we should go to the very fountainhead of values by deepening our intellectual search. Only then would we be rewarded with glimpses of the Eternal and the Infinite behind the transient and the finite, which is the real foundation of life in its totality. That is the source of all values and virtues which ennoble and enrich human beings and hold us all together as one. All character-building, man- making, nation-building and universe-sustaining impulses emanate from that source only. And that source is the Ultimate Reality or Satyasya Satyam, as the Vedic seers realized it.

It will not be wrong to say that the warp and woof of India’s spiritual heritage has been set in the loom of this Vedic Vision. From time immemorial that all-encompassing vision has nurtured and sustained a spiritual culture of extraordinary depth and splendour, held this nation as one amidst all its bewildering diversities, preserved it against all vicissitudes of history, endowed human life with divine potentiality, woven a social fabric of lasting durability and elegance, established most splendid and hoary traditions of great scientific and practical significance covering every aspect of human life such as, art, literature and religion, built up immeasurably valuable holistic scientific concepts interrelating man with the visible and invisible cosmic laws and forces, created from time to time incarnations, sages, saints and philosophers whose words continue to inspire mankind to this day, fashioned heroes and heroines of unsurpassed beauty, character and excellence worthy of emulation, and above all, made our motherland renowned as Punyabhoomi, Karmabhoomi, Dharmabhoomi and so on and made it a blessing to be born here. Perpetuating this vision for the posterity should become the prime concern of every Indian. 

Satyasya Satyam

    Thousands of years ago, when humanity was still in a state of slumber, the super scientists of India, the Vedic rishis, were engaged in the knotty task of uncovering the Ultimate Reality of life. This Reality of all realities, they soon found out, was beyond whatever the senses could perceive. Through a step-by-step approach, penetrating through the world of plurality, they looked into the very core of their inner being and discovered the Ultimate Truth as the Self (Atman) within. This they called as Satyam, the Truth. Its nature was described as Sat Chit Ananda( Existence, Knowledge, Bliss)

    When they woke up from this superconscious experience of Oneness, they also discovered that Truth is One but its expressions could be diverse. It is this Truth in which everything in the universe remains interconnected, interrelated and interdependent. Evolving a superfine technology for uncovering this Truth through Self-realization is the greatest discovery and blessing that the rishis have conferred on humanity.

    It is the awareness of the Oneness of Truth and its manifestations as many constituting the ‘Jagat’ that mark the Vedic Vision. This awareness of Truth must be nurtured within the individuals to achieve personal integration as well as peace and happiness outside. This Truth alone can pave way for global peace and understanding. “Nanyah pantha vidyate ayanaya” declare the Upanishads in unequivocal terms. It is unfortunate that in spite of the affirmation of this Truth in all our scriptures, its declaration by realised souls from time immemorial and its inscription on our national emblem, we as a nation are becoming committed to untruth, moving farther and farther away from these ideals with disastrous consequences. Restoring the value of Truth in our lives is the need of the hour, to bring dignity to man, to redeem our society, our nation and the whole world. Such a Vision has bestowed upon our country a rare spiritual fragrance and would therefore remain as the Vision of Bharath for all times to come. 

    For us, in India, this discovery ushered in the dawn of enlightenment and introduced us to the most wonderful idea of Life Eternal. Since then, this Ganga of integral vision of the rishis or Vedic Vision, has been cascading down the centuries, enriching every field of human activity and giving birth to a unique and spiritually oriented civilization and culture. This Satyam, the Eternal Truth, is the basis of Indian culture and civilisation to this day as reflected in India’s national emblem, Satyameva Jayate (‘Truth alone triumphs’) – a phrase taken from the Mundaka Upanishad.

Satyam Param Dheemahi

India’s greatest contribution to world thought and culture is the concept of the One, Eternal, Indivisible, Omniscient, Omnipotent and Omnipresent Truth as the be-all and end-all of all existence. This Truth, our Rishis (Scientists) established as the basis of all knowledge, of spirituality and science. Hindu culture and Religion grew and expanded holding on to this Oneness of Truth, which manifests as the many in the Universe, where everything remains interrelated, interconnected and interdependent. This Truth is realisable by man within himself, as the central core of his being through the path of self – enquiry, transcending the distractions created by the body, mind and intellect. 

    Understanding the One in the many and the many in the One, India developed her unique cultural characteristics. Satyameva jayate, Satyam param deemahi became the watch words of our spiritual heritage based on Vedic Vision. It is a matter of great pride to us that the modern science, as it starts revealing more and more the innate Oneness of the Universe, is moving closer and closer to this Indian ideal. The result is, scientists and visionaries all over the world are becoming increasingly aware of the magnificient contribution that India has made in the field of Science, a science which is holistic, man – making and planet sustaining as well. Our scientific tradition is all the more attractive also because, here spirituality and science blended so well and harmoniously, each being complementary to the other.  The sum total of this development was that life itself came to be recognised as the unfoldment of the One Eternal Truth and its prime goal in life was considered as the realisation of that Truth.

    In other parts of the world, on the other hand, Science or search for truth was focused on the material side only, as they were, through the physical means available with them, unable to go beyond the world of senses, mind and intellect. They were unable to decipher the One Truth behind the many (names and forms). The world owes it to Albert Einstein who opened the eyes of the Scientific community to the ‘relativity’ of the ‘material’. It was he, who for the first time elevated the modern science to the understanding of One Absolute Truth behind the many, through the famous equation E=mc2.

    That is the uniqueness of Vedic Vision and India, therefore, has a special role to play in the present crisis when mankind is looking for a new paradigm of Reality, in the hope that such an approach would restore sanity to mankind and usher in an era of peace and happiness. This paradigm has to be centered in the search for unity or Truth or Solidarity of the whole universe.

Search for Unity

    In 1893 when Swami Vivekananda spoke on Hinduism to the learned audience at the Chicago Parliament, Swamiji projected the harmony between science and spirituality based on One Truth and laid the foundation for making the Vedic Vision, for the first time the World Vision.

    “Science is nothing but the finding of unity. As soon as science would reach perfect unity, it would stop from further progress, because it would reach the goal. Thus chemistry could not progress farther when it would discover one element out of which all others could be made. Physics would stop when it would be able to fulfil its services in discovering one energy of which all the others are but manifestations, and the science of religion become perfect when it would discover Him who is the one life in a universe of death, Him, who is the constant basis of an ever – changing world, One, who is the only soul of which all souls are but delusive manifestations. Thus is it, through multiplicity and duality, the ultimate unity is reached. Religion can go no farther. This is the goal of all science”.
Dharma – translation of Truth into Life

    Dharma is the second most essential ingredient of Vedic Vision, next only to Satya.

    A simple definition of Dharma could be translation of Truth into life principles enabling man to lead a noble life, pursue his enquiry into Truth by which he manifests his own divinity and helps others to manifest theirs. Dharmic values alone can help man to control his inner and outer nature so that he is elevated spiritually. Dharma denotes the disciplines and the code of conduct that should govern the individual and collective lives of the entire humanity. All the subtle aspects of dharma have been thoroughly investigated by our seers earning for this land the name of Dharma Bhoomi.

    It is the bud of Satya that blossoms up in real life as dharma. Dharma assures all round peace, happiness and fulfillment not only to the individual but to the society as a whole. Unfortunately the value of dharma is lost on the present day society, deeply sunk in the morass of materialism where every individual is bent upon upsetting the rhythm of the Cosmic Whole.

Realisation of Truth in its absolute and ultimate form has been the be-all and end-all of human life in this country from ancient times. After actualising this Truth as the Consciousness within and without, the Vedic seers also evolved a superfine technology of realising that Truth and translating  It into life in toto, thus laying the foundation of the all-comprehensive Law of Being, Dharma. The final aim of dharma is Self realisation. This is what constitutes the essence of Upanishadic knowledge. To know the Self, again, dharma is the way. This vision has been summarised in the eloquent words in Taittiriya Upanishad, satyam vada, dharmam chara (‘speak Truth, follow Dharma’)

    Dharma rooted as it is in the Ultimate Reality of the Oneness of Consciousness can provide a most satisfying conceptual foundation to life anywhere and everywhere, provide a basis or raison d’etre - for universally acceptable social, moral and ethical values which can integrate man with the WHOLE, help him to manifest the divinity within and evolve him toward Godhood, here in this very life itself. It is amazing that as envisaged by our great rishis and repeatedly asserted by the seers of our times like Sri Ramakrishna, Swami Vivekananda, Sri Aurobindo and others, modern scientific research for Truth has also started edging towards this very same conceptualisation. The indebtedness that we in Bharat, nay, the entire humanity, owe to the rishis of our land, whose astounding intellectual penetrations into Consciousness revealed such an unparalleled unified wholeness of the entire universe, spreading beyond time and space, and the power of whose knowledge, will and action continues to project and sustain this vision through century after century, is simply immeasurable.

What is Vedic Vision?

The ideal that Vedic Vision holds before us is the realization of the Eternal Truth within oneself, feel its presence in the entire universe and adjust all our activities in such a way as to reflect that principle of Oneness in thoughts, words and deeds. To the rishis, the Nature outside was an external expression of the Truth within. This realization was truly a quantum leap in knowledge – from unity to universality. This vision of the Whole and the awareness of man’s interrelatedness with and interdependence on all that exists is what has made the Indian culture so singularly spiritual and, at once, in modern terms, highly scientific and holistic.

    A profound respect for nature and the wisdom inherent in it is the hallmark of Vedic vision. To the Vedic mind, tolerance is a byword. When one gets truly established in it, genuine hospitality and warm friendship replace feelings of resentment and strangeness. Ecological balance and social justice are the natural outcome of such a wholesome living centred round the vision of a Universal Reality – where the individual feels himself bound to the cosmos as a whole. This became the Dharma of the individual.

Yajna – the high potential cosmic dynamo

To ensure that Vedic Vision becomes a working practical model, the spirit of Yajna should enter into it. The immense spiritual energy that is stored up in the Cosmos becomes available to man when he transforms his life into Yajna. Devoid of kartrutwa and bhoktrutwa bhavas when work is done, with no selfish motivation it automatically turns into an act of Yajna. Such actions not only benefit the doer but add to the potential spiritual energy in the Universe. That is why our Puranas connect individual’s yajnas with proper and timely rains, rich harvest, etc. Except the selfishly motivated work done by man, every other action has a cosmic dimension and implication. One sure way to catch the glory of Yajna into our life is to carry on all our life activities as dedication to the Supreme. That would also remove unwanted tensions in the lives of people centered on their ego. 

Let us not forget that it is the fire of knowledge from the Yagnavedis of Vedic times that has uninterruptedly lighted the lives of the Great Masters in our country whom we continue to adore and worship to this day. 

How to make the Vedic Vision a World Vision

In their own simple, elegant and unique style our rishis have formulated very practical guidelines to achieve this. Given below are a few of those guidelines.

‘Isavasyamidamsarvam’ ( Isavasyopanishad)

A more harmonizing and positive statement of the omniscience of Truth, with ways and means of practising the same as our dharma is hard to find in any scriptural literature. Everything in this Universe – moving and unmoving, living and nonliving whatever there be are all pervaded by divinity which is infinite, indestructible and eternal. Swami Vivekananda makes the statement more fitting to the present in his inimitable way thus. “Everything that is finite in the Universe would find its ultimate rest only when classified into infinite.”

To incorporate this Truth as part of our life comes the statement from the same Upanishad:  

‘Tena tyaktena bhunjitha, ma gridha kasya sviddhanam’

This is a very pertinent statement where Upanishad reminds us that there is only one way we can enjoy – through self restraint, never coveting another’s wealth. When ‘I’  am part of the ‘Whole’ , where is the question of indulging in exploitation, over utilisation, aggrandizement and other associated maladies which are presently tearing apart human lives and devastating our environment.
In this highly thought provoking statement we can find a subjective Truth for the adjustment within the human personality as also a spiritual and scientific basis for man to establish his relationship with the outside world.
‘Ekam sat viprah bahudha vadanti’

The relentless search for Truth which our learned seers undertook thousands of years back, at a time when civilization and culture as we understand them today were almost none existent led them to the astounding discovery, that behind the fa├žade of multiplicity of material forms there is one Ultimate Truth or Reality which is the real ‘material and efficient cause’ behind the Universe. The goal and purpose of life were to recognize this Truth and realize it to the best of one’s ability. The names by which Truth may be called by different seekers or sects of people were of no importance. They found that this Truth was a great subjective spiritual realization carrying man beyond his body, mind and intellect into the realm of spirit, of Self.

These meditations provided our seers with a vision of Reality, of Oneness where there was neither subject nor object, the one Truth pervaded everything everywhere. Nature outside was seen as an externalized expression of the same Truth within cognized by the sense organs as many and different. This understanding was indeed a quantum leap in knowledge - from Unity to Universality. This vision of the Whole, an awareness of man’s interrelatedness  with and interdependence on all that exists, is what has made the vedic vision so unique, at once spiritual and in modern terms highly scientific.
‘Vasudhaiva kudumbakam’

The above concept centered in the awareness of one Truth, visualizing the whole Universe as one’s family leads to an unparalleled  expansion of human mind which provides a homely remedy for all the ills which are creeping into man’s mind spoiling his interrelationships with people and the environment. The utter simplicity of the statement reveals what intricate training of the mind has been achieved by the Vedic Seers, what expansion, what identification with the Whole!

The statement says that ‘the whole universe is one family. The welfare of the family rests on the proper exercise of the rights and responsibilities by all its members individually and collectively. Respect, regard, love, sacrifice, service – manifold are the expressions through which those rights and responsibilities are exercised in real life. In the togetherness, mutuality, each member responsibly carrying out one’s duties remaining as part of the whole and ever keeping at bay his individualistic egotism, lie the wholesomeness of a family. To get at this magnificent cohesiveness what else, but the awareness of the spiritual solidity of the whole, could be the basis?

Such a “systems” view of life is gaining wide acceptance in the West presently, which recognizes the continuous interactions among living beings and the surrounding eco systems, as also the complex, yet natural interdependence that exists in nature. The interconnectedness, interrelatedness and interdependence that are being revealed at every step are not only revelations of the facets of One Omniscient Truth but are also pointers to man as to how he has to rectify his mistakes and save the planet we live in. A new approach to life and its challenges based on such a global ecological awareness or in Indian terms ‘spiritual’ approach or in modern terminology ‘holistic’ or ‘systemic’ view is very much warranted today as we are posed with the question of the very survival of mankind.

In this vision of Reality lies hidden the mystery and mastery of creation, an understanding and appreciation of which would make living joyful and fulfilling at every moment, a fact we in India had recognized, realized and practised since long.  A profound respect for nature and the wisdom inherent in it were the hallmarks of Indian culture. It helped us to see beauty, glory and goodness where otherwise one saw only ugliness and evil. Tolerance became a by word in life. A feeling of genuine hospitality and warm friendship replaced feelings of resentment and strangeness. Moderation in conduct, balance in behavior and harmony in activity followed. Ecological balance and social justice were the ‘natural outcome of such a wholesome living in tune with nature – centered round the vision of Universal Reality – where the individual felt himself bound to the cosmos as a whole. This became the ‘dharma of the individual’.

An awareness of our unbreakable relationship with the entire cosmos and a deep concern for everything around us is a must for all. That alone can reconvert this world into a healthy home for all of us to live together joyously and harmoniously. No other country or culture has evolved such a scientific unifying and universal vision of the Whole and perpetuated it through centuries. Nowhere can be find millions of people praying for the welfare of the entire humanity,  sans religion, race or creed through prayers such as “Sarve bhavanthu sukhina’’ and “Lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu” and we Indians should strive to make them the Universal prayer of the entire humanity.
Conclusion

This multi faceted gem of universal understanding or vedic vision has been chiseled and polished by countless seers and sages from time immemorial to this day. The present issue of Kendra Patrika presents before us the sparkling emanations from the efforts of these great savants like Swami Vivekananda, Maharshi Aurobindo, Sri Dayananda Saraswathi and a host of others. They reveal the great contemplations these teachers had undertaken to absorb this great Truth and impart it to the humanity as a whole. Each article is an intensive study requiring great upasana from the readers to understand the full import of the meaning conveyed by them. 

There is nothing as purifying as Jnana and this great compilation brings before us the essence of vedic knowledge and the vision emanating from it, in a profound and at the same time appealing to the modern intellect. May the Divine Veda Mata purify the minds of the readers and instill in them the capacity to make vedic vision an essential ingredient of their lives’ mission.
                                                                                                                                     Dr.Lakshmikumari